In what is both a good bit of journalism and a great twist in the psychodrama of the 2016 elections, the New York Times got its hands on three pages of Donald Trump’s taxes in 1995. Here’s what they found:
Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show…
Mr. Trump had once revealed to casino regulators that he had paid no federal income taxes in the late 1970s…
So the “highly successful businessman” (according to Trump spokesmen) lost a billion dollars through “mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan,” and used it to cancel out his taxes for decades, while “ordinary investors in the new company, meanwhile, saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, while scores of contractors went unpaid for work on Mr. Trump’s casinos and casino bondholders received pennies on the dollar.”
Two more highlights from the article. First, the Trump campaign’s…interesting take on the story:
“Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the statement said. “That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes.”
The statement continued: “Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.”
Separately, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Marc E. Kasowitz, emailed a letter to The Times arguing that publication of the records is illegal because Mr. Trump has not authorized the disclosure of any of his tax returns. Mr. Kasowitz threatened “prompt initiation of appropriate legal action.”
Now that’s what I call a winning message: our boss is a successful businessman who lost a billion dollars, he totally paid all the other taxes, because he’s a tax cheat he knows how to fix the tax code, and if you publish this, we’ll sue you.
Second, my favorite detail of the piece:
“The three documents arrived by mail at The Times with a postmark indicating they had been sent from New York City. The return address claimed the envelope had been sent from Trump Tower.”
So who’s the mole inside Trump Tower? My money’s on Melania!